Wednesday 9 February 2011

Risk Assessing the Internet

Yesterday was the eighth Safer Internet Day.  One of the schools I work in took the opportunity to have an e-safety workshop with everyone in the school (nursery to year six), and also with parents interested.

In any risk assessment, there are two main actions to take - to remove the risk, or if that is not possible, to 'manage' the risk and reduce the possibility and size of the potential hazard.  Schools/ISP providers can and do block sites seen as 'risky'.  However, if you remove all the sites which could be risky, you remove much of any use on the internet (see Kevin's post).  The whole of  'social media' on the internet, could, and often is, seen as too risky for children.  But if we remove access at school, how is that protecting children at home, or preparing them for use of social media?  What about the families and others at home, who likewise may not be aware of risks to them or their children using the internet?

I am particularly impressed with Paganel Primary to grapple this tricky issue and to make a longer term commitment to work with parents and children to safeguard their internet use, through the initial e-safety workshops, but also to continue with digital surgeries for parents and children to support their school community as a whole to make better and safer use of the internet with their children.

Craig's e-safety workshop with nursery children
Craig Gilman's e-safety workshops exposes the extent to which children already take risks on the internet - children as young as 7 or 8 may have facebook accounts across the UK.  Soon it could be the majority of young people with regular access to a computer will have a facebook or other social media network accounts by the time they leave primary school.

If we ignore the problem, and attempt to screen children from social media, the more likely children will not be honest about their use of the internet (Six out of ten children 'lie about age on internet') and more likely people really will be harmed by their internet use

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